An old technology that uses natural bacteria predators, called bacteriophages, is the focus of new research at the University of Nevada, Reno. The technique is being used to reduce salmonella bacteria in meat products.
Assistant Professor Amilton de Mello, from the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources at the University of Nevada, Reno, presented his research at the international American Meat Science Association’s conference that ends today in Texas.
“We were able to reduce salmonella by as much as 90 percent in ground poultry, ground pork and ground beef,” de Mello reported. “We’re excited to be able to show such good results, food safety is an important part of our work and salmonella is one of the most prevalent bacteria in the nation’s food supply.”
Salmonella is one of the most common causes of food borne illnesses in the United States. The bacteria can cause diarrhea, fever, vomiting and abdominal cramps. In people with weaker immune systems, or in young children and the elderly, it can be fatal. It is estimated to cause one million foodborne illnesses in the United States every year, with 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.